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The Mainly Annual EastWesterly Review/Postmodern
Village Conference 2002
A Report on the 9th Annual EastWesterly Review/Postmodern
by E.W. Wilder
Baby Tuckoo in Dreamland: Marketing Literature in the Age of
by Ashplant Dignam
They've done it to The Hunchback of Notre Dame; they've
done it to ancient mythology - they've done it to history, too:
John Smith will never be the same. What's next for Disney? High
Art, argues Dignam. We especially liked the "trailer"
for Dignam's projected Disney version of Portrait of the
Artist as a Young Man. Who knew Stephen Dedalus so resembled
a cartoon bunny? We'd like not to think that his prediction
about Faulkner will come to pass - that Benjy is unintelligible
because he's really a bright orange turtle - but we think we
Like White Elephants: The Problem of Audiology in Ernest Hemingway"
by Apuh Bear and Christopher K. Robbing
Explores the problematic of what could or could not actually
be heard in the dialogue-driven plots of Ernest Hemingway. A
demonstration was given on a realistically reconstructed train
platform recreating the famous setting of "Hills Like White
Elephants." An excerpt of the transcript follows:
"It's pretty hot," the man said.
(Rumble of train leaving station.)
"What?" "I said, 'IT'S PRETTY HOT!'"
"Yes," said the girl, "I am. That's what got
us into this mess in the first place!"
After this presentation, one could more easily accept the author's
thesis that Hemingway was an author, primarily, of science fiction.
See also "The Yelled 'Oh!' Wallpaper" by the same
I Dig It Again: the Direct Line of Hipness from Dobie Gillis
to Britney Spears"
by Oman Omanadanna
What's in? We rethought that after Omanandanna's presentation.
Citing such often overlooked factors as physiometric measurements
and stoicheiometry, the author demonstrated that hipness is
less an issue of popularity or anti-squareness as it is a physical
property easily determinable by modern measuring techniques.
"Oops, I Dig It" ends with the disturbing possibility
that hipness is genetic, thus the spectre of genetic engineering
in order to create a universally hip society. Science fact is
more scary than science fiction yet again.
Dreams: Doo-Wop as a Vehicle for Class Transcendence"
by D. Wayne Leibniz
Aside from the wingtips and the ducktails, what most impressed
us about this presentation was the cool stage that raised the
participants up through the different social classes. It was
"Battle of the Bands" meets Battleship Potempkin
except all were winners of vintage 45s. Wayne Newton's telling
of his heart-wrenching journey from confused child star to confused
Las Vegas superstar had us all in tears.
Cruciful: Martyrdom Among the Reds"
by Peter N. Pauls
Was Jesus a red? Tom Joad? A thought-provoking portrait of
Ronald Reagan, the Red Scare, Arthur Miller, and the Born Again.
Were the total-immersion baptisms part of the presentation or
Cid and Nancy: Punk as Tragic Romance in a Pre-Post-Modern Idiom"
by Sir Morris Bullocks
We got the first part where the paper was presented, but the
last part where the author brought out David Byrne and Laurie
Anderson and had them make out on stage disturbed us in an exciting
kind of way. We can't wait for the sequel: "The Clash of
the Titans: Post-Punk Protest Song as Ancient Mythology."
Jackson, Anglo-Saxon? Black Stereotypes as the Young, White
by M. Farley
From Vanilla Ice to Eminem to the author's friend who, while
working at the Bionic Burger would explain his continual lateness
with "Man, I got beat down by the cops!" this paper
represents an attempt to sort through representations of the
white man as the black man and what that says about black stereotypes.
From Al Jolson to Al Sharpton (or as the author put it "Seriously,
we don't want him to be black"), "Chillaxin"
questions the common accusation by African Americans that "You
ain't black!" After this presentation, we wondered if perhaps
we all are. And you thought drag queens were hard to figure
Sensuous Vermin: Amorous Rodents in Charles Dickens, or Something
Like Dat, Yo"
by Kit Friskin
We're always interested in a new take on the classics, and
this bit of New Historicism took us for a wilde ryde. The idea
that the sexual frequency and inventiveness of Rodentia was
a key to comprehending Dickens had been suggested by Stephan
Gruenblatt in 1982, but Friskin really follows up, detailing
hidden references to small mammal breeding in even the most
obscure of the great writer's letters. But the slides of early
(and rejected) illustrations for the Dickens classic Bleak
House portraying mice in leather halters and carrying whips
really made us believers.
The Haves and Have Nots: Ploids, Prozac and the Commodification
by R. Russ Ruffles
Billing themselves as "[t]he official currency of fun,"
Ploids have exploided on the pre-teen scene with mass-marketed
consumer tie ins with Frito-Lay, Pepsi, and, though they fail
to advertise it, the Russian mafia. What can you win with Ploids?
Nobody knows, but Ruffles is sure of one thing: it further commodifies
the notion of happiness by implying to the quite young and impressionable
that, indeed, it can be bought and sold. It's about time, says
Ruffles, since their parents had long been convinced of this
by the pharmaceutical industry, as they purchase Prozac like
peppermint candy. This leaves us with only one question: What
can you win with Prozac?
Rockinghorse Wiener: Dada, D.H. Lawrence and the Phallus as
by Charlotte Perkins Gilbert and Mary Wollstonecraft Gubar
The nexus of the equine and prognostication has never been
so patriarchally problematic as when these two wymyn discuss
the phallus. Witches would be so less powerful without their
allure, and the capture of what's in men's pants provides a
certain exercise of mojosity that projects and perpetuates female
power. We felt helpless, but what a compelling spell to be under!
We predict great things for these two, black pointy hats and
Vindication of the Rights of Muppets, or How Everything Has
Turned to SHIT Since Jim Henson Died"
by Kermit T. Fozz
Invective or insight into the subtle relationship between fan
and pop-culture icon? We decided it was indeterminate, but what
we can say is that Fozz's plan for the liberation and eventual
acceptance of Muppets as people is a compelling one. Signatures
for his petition to get a vote on the upcoming Muppet Act of
Liberation, Freedom, Organization, Reform, and Modernization
(MALFORM) were many and pressed hard into the paper. The number
of conferees sporting "Up with Muppets!" and "Free
the Frog!" t-shirts afterward was considerable considering
the steep ($21.50!) asking price.
Phat and the Furriest: Youth Culture, Hormone-Laden Beef and
Custom Cars in La-La Land"
by A. Sian Ganglord
As the import-car modification scene becomes hotter on the
West Coast and threatens to spill neon-green Acuras with massive
rear wings onto the streets of middle-America, Ganglord sees
a second-generation Asian-American population motivated right
out of a healthy diet and exercise. As traditional fish and
rice based diets give way to burgers and fries, and a more car-intensive
lifestyle takes over from walking or bike-riding, the Asian-American
body itself is being modified by hormone-treated beef. No longer
will our stereotype of a nearly hairless Asian hold true, says
the author, "The po-mo Chinaman is as hirsute as any Italian."
Cyborg, meet Cyburger . . . .
News, or It's Not Really News Until Somebody Dies, Dan, or Why
Dan Rather Can't Bring CBS Back to Credibility After Survivor
by Fred Furious
Buried within the thesis that simply calling it hard news,
as Rather has taken to doing on his CBS news show, does not
make it so, is the more disturbing notion that perhaps, in fact,
language does not create reality. If it doesn't, the foundations
of contemporary critical theory begin to crumble pretty quickly
- and what does one do with the bones of post-feminism, much
less the tattered remains of Marshall McLuhan? Ameliorating
the chill a bit was the warm-fuzzy we all got from watching
Furious's tape of Rather bloopers and gaffes. Rather hilarious,
despite the serious repercussions.
Importance of Reviving Ernest, Know What I Mean, Vern?"
by Varney P. Worrell
The role of cultural foil is not one that should be taken as
lightly as perhaps we have in the past. Or so says Worrell,
whose five-year journey from Appalachia to Oklahoma in search
of the meaning of Ernest (no relation) fulfilled a life-long
dream. "I came to know Ernest as the needed curative to
the social pork," he writes, "not the salt of the
earth, but the salt of the ham." We couldn't agree more,
if, that is, we knew what he was talking about.
Like a Whore: Post-Feminist Reinterpretations of the Body, or
How NIN Stole My Soul"
by Tori Paglia-Gore
"Closer," we all got to this honest yet abrasive
"hexorcize" in re-visioning of gender-role. Just when
we thought it was safe for the sexes, Paglia-Gore shows BD/SM
as the final frontier. If you're not here, she seems to be saying,
you're not truly liberated. "Freedom in Chains" is
an interesting concept, but we're not sure how we'd hide the
scars at work.
by Habib Dimmes-Dal
Recent Neo-Colonial scholarship by Dimmes-Dal and others has
unearthed in an Egyptian customs house a much abbreviated Arab
retelling of Hawthorne's famous novel in which, instead of the
relatively innocuous Puritan punishment, Hester Prynne's counterpart
is summarily stoned to death in two pages of text. An important
development, to be sure. We can't wait for the Sparknotes version.
Maypo of Merrymount: Images of Innocence from Hawthorne to Honey-Nut
by Frank N. Berry
The smiling child has always been a great way to sell products,
but he too is fallen, Berry reminds us, showing the darker tones
of marketers' attempts to whitewash childhood for the sake of
cereal. Hawthorne, of course, knew better. But what was he selling?
the Ravin' 'Evermore': Why Rave Culture is Here to Stay"
by Xavier Xander
We admit, the light show and the trance was too-fly-to-die-for,
but the Poe tie-in was inestimable. It's not so much that "The
Cask of Amontillado" is a psychologically revealing exploration
of vengeance and pride as it is a bad X trip. It's not that
"The Masque of the Red Death" is a great piece of
gothic horror, but that it's a metaphor for a rave busted by
the police. Poe wasn't really a gothic writer; he was just a
Goth. Why hadn't we seen it before?
Did It, Coleridge Did It, Fitzgerald Too. Why Can't I Do It?
Or You'll Never Be a Writer Without a Raging Drug Habit"
by William H. Wannabe
Picking up on Xander's theme, Wannabe explicates the intricate
web of artist and "inspiration" through illustration
and participation. Sadly, the ravers who came to see the other
paper kept bogarting all the "illustration." Bummer.
Xanadu Did Newton-John a Stately Pleasure-Drone Decree"
by Rizzo P. Wizacker
Explores the relationship between the decadence of the disco
era and the subsequent effect on contemporary culture. Historicity
met electricity in the pumped-up presentation of sight, sound
and Studio 54-inspired naughtiness. The quadraphonics were a
special touch. We're still worried how we're going to get the
stains out of our lounge suits.
Vs. Elephant Art: A Postmodern Aesthetic Dilemma"
by Hank Hankaria
The death of art ca. Claes Oldenberg has made for some interesting
aesthetic debates. Instead of arguments about the figurative
vs. the non-figurative, the expulsion of the artist as individual
creator from the artistic process has put us in the place where
we must debate the relative merits of whether chimp art is more
expressive than elephant art. The two camps are, surprisingly,
widely divided, with elephant-backers complaining of "speciesist-prima-centrism"
on the part of the pro-simian faction amid counter-accusations
of "trunk-triumphalism." The moderated panel nearly
came to blows while the featured artists munched grass and threw
feces. Watch for Hankaria's upcoming paper on Post-Colonial
Indian elephant art vs. Post-Colonial art by elephants of color.
Signifier Monkey: The Semiotics of Sambo vs. Rambo or Man, We
by E. Jaxon Polltax
We'll let the author speak for himself from his commentaries
on the text: "All we've got is Blade and Shaft.
They've got Rambo, van Damme, the Terminator, even that lame-ass
Die Hard guy. And who ever thought Martin Lawrence and
Chris Rock were action heroes? Man, I demand a recount."
Goodman Brown: Revisioning Puritanism as S&M: The Mayflower
meets the Mayflower Madam"
by Xaveria Holly-Ander
Echoing the Dickens piece above, Holly-Ander revisions Puritan
garb, repression and speech patterns as po-mo fetishism. "Everything
from the stocks to the titillation of being tied to a stake
and 'burned' by candle wax is explored by the followers of this
new fetish, who all seem to have one thing in common: they get
a thrill from being sinful. It's as inevitable as our own past,"
writes the author. Afterward, we couldn't sit for a week.
Ass Menagerie: Mental Illness and Family Dysfunction as Hip-Hip
by Lanier Thomas Ford
Eminem wails about his "moms," and the rest bitch
about their "bitches and hos," and Ford taps into
the deep crotch beneath the waistband of Gangsta' and hip-hop
rage: a bad home life, or, as Ford puts it, a bad "ho'me(y)
life," translating into the need to degrade and use women.
There's nothing much surprising about that, but his contention
that family dysfunction propels inner-city youth backward into
a primal proto-mind is groundbreaking. The emphasis on "bootie"
is a direct Oedipal reaction combined with a primate's-eye-view
of the female posterior. Right on or bass-ackwards? Chilling
at any rate.
No matter how nice he is, or how much he says he does for you, don't trust
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